Homeowner reacts to land spat

Spital bridge salt marsh Raymond Wriglesworth
Spital bridge salt marsh Raymond Wriglesworth

A landowner has hit back at claims he is destroying a historic and rare salt marsh in the centre of Whitby.

Raymond Wriglesworth of Rafts Yard at Spital Bridge says he is merely protecting his property and family from the threat of flooding by installing metal gabions filled with bricks on the water’s edge.

However, a number of local groups including Whitby In Bloom, Gateway and Whitby Naturalists say the works are threatening the salt marsh which houses rare plants and are fighting to save it.

Whitby Town Council have already written to Mr Wriglesworth about the work he is undertaking.

He told the Gazette: “They have every right to an opinion but they need to get their facts right.”

He has since replied to the letter saying that he has permission to construct the two metre high gabions and that he has proof the area of land is under his control.

He added: “It has been my land since I bought the property in 1977.

“When you own land that abuts tidal waters you have every right under the law to protect your property from flooding.

“I put the gabions in when I first bought number four to stop it from falling into the river.

“Up until the floods of 2013 I did not have a problem but the water was within inches of the foundations of the floors. Another foot and it would have wiped out the cottages.

“I realised I was going to have to take steps to protect our properties and that is how I came to go to the Land Registry.

“It has been properly investigated and surveyed by the Land Registry and they have confirmed that I own this land.”

Mr Wriglesworth says he has a letter from the borough council which says he doesn’t require planning permission and that he is being mindful of the surroundings.

He added: “Everything I have done has been in sympathy with conservation. I am not the sort of man that builds a load of rubbish goes off and leaves it.

“I have been there since 1977 and it was derelict and barren land and now all of a sudden it is a salt marsh. It is an area of sludge in front of my cottage that is nothing but a stinking tip.”

The issue was raised at Tuesday night’s town council meeting where councillors agreed to support the groups campaigning to save the salt marsh.

Cllr John Freeman said: “The more and more you put into a flood plain, the more you push out the water somewhere else. We have got to support the different bodies that are trying to protect the area and to be told to shut up and mind our own business is not appropriate.”